Boris Gorelick Circus Mural on eBay

Boris Gorelick mural

I don’t post links to eBay items frequently, but I can’t resist pointing out this huge, stunning Fifties silkscreen mural by Boris Gorelick (1912-1984), who painted backgrounds at UPA, Warner Bros. and Format Films. Gorelick’s animation work consists exclusively of paintings based on the layouts of other artists, so it is a pleasant surprise to discover that he was such a facile draftsman and that he drew characters so beautifully. The design is busy but never cluttered, and his use of color is bold and imaginative. With so many contemporary artists creating mediocre gallery paintings using a “cartoon modern” style, it’s easy to forget how exciting and interesting a stylized cartoon painting can be. Gorelick had it down.

I’ve written about Gorelick before on the Cartoon Modern blog. He had a fascinating history. Born in Russia, his parents emigrated to the US when he was an infant. He was politically active throughout the 1930s, and hung out with artists like Arshile Gorky, Max Weber and Ben Shahn. In 1935, while creating art for the W.P.A., he made a lithograph of a circus scene that is much darker than the Fifties version, and shows his vastly different approach to drawing in his pre-animation years.

Boris Gorelick lithograph

I checked with the eBay seller, and he said if the reserve isn’t met on the listing, the mural will be available for sale at Izzi Modern which is located in the Vintage Collective showroom in Long Beach, CA.

Miyazaki’s Quiet Protest of the Iraq War

Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki didn’t come to the United States in 2003 to accept his Oscar for Spirited Away because of his opposition to the Iraq War, he recently told the LA Times:

“The reason I wasn’t here for the Academy Award was because I didn’t want to visit a country that was bombing Iraq. At the time, my producer shut me up and did not allow me to say that, but I don’t see him around today. By the way, my producer also shared in that feeling.”

Critic Daniel Thomas MacInnes offers some context to Miyazaki’s actions on The Ghibli Blog:

It should be common knowledge to any serious Miyazaki scholar that he abhorred not only the Iraq War, but war itself. The idea of violence is depicted in his work as violent tragedy, slapstick mockery, or both…I don’t think very many Westerners know that the war in Howl’s Moving Castle was itself a reflection on the Iraq War. It was a comment on that war, viewed through the lens of Miyazaki’s long career.

Notes from the Comic Con

I’m just back from “Comic Con” aka the San Diego Comic Con (for the record, I refuse to call it Comic Con International) and, all said and done, I had a pretty good time. I’m one of those who has been distressed by the Hollywood domination of the convention, and the massive attendance of fans/pros and Hollywood types (125,000 plus) that have made this one-time delightful experience a literal nightmare for the uninitiated.

I’ve finally accepted the Con for what has now become, planned my own schedule of events, met up with my friends, made my way into all the parties and panels I wanted to attend, and just decided to enjoy myself.

I’m not going to recount or review specific panels in great detail; I haven’t even unpacked yet and probably have a bunch of comics, fanzines and freebies worth noting… that’ll wait for later. For now, here’s an overview of selected highlights over the last few days:

Wednesday: I was planning to leave at noon, in hopes of arriving in San Diego before 5pm, so I could attend the Preview Night. I got an email at 8:30am from my friends with the Astro Boy movie and they wondered if I could show up at the Con by 3:30pm to run-through the panel I was to moderate on Thursday morning. Knowing it would take at least four hours (especially if I stopped for lunch), that meant I had to leave at 11am – which I did. At 3:30, I was inside the convention hall reviewing the plans for the panel with the folks from Summit and Imagi.

Thursday: Began the day moderating a 10:30am panel on the new Astro Boy movie (looks great, by the way). Got to meet Freddy Highmore and Kristen Bell, and interviewed them on stage. Superhero Hype.com posted a transcript of the panel here.

Later that day I got to see the Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs panel. The clips they ran were excellent. It’s going to be a very funny movie – unlike almost any CG animated film we’ve seen yet. It’s much more a “cartoon comedy” than I expected and I’m quite jazzed to see the full length film.

Friday: At 8:30am I had breakfast with Craig Yoe, Harry McCracken and Tom Knott. At 12:30pm, I got into Hall H to see the big Disney presentation – and it was superb. John Lasseter was the M.C. and he did a great job presenting the clips and talking about each film. He would tell the crowd how great something would be, then showed a clip to prove it. He showed the first ten minutes of Toy Story 2 in 3D (it looked incredible). Lasseter then introduced the new 3D teaser trailer for Toy Story 3 which was very funny. He also showed a hilarious new short featuring Ken (Barbie’s boyfriend), voiced by Michael Keaton and probably directed by Teddy Newton (that was Teddy’s voice narrating it). This short will probably be a bonus extra on the Toy Story 3 DVD in a year and a half. The short, Groovin’ With Ken, was presented like an old 1970s 16mm promo film (Academy leader countdown, lines, splices, abrupt cuts, etc.) and was a parody of Ken’s supposedly swingin’ life style.

The footage from The Princess and The Frog reassured me that Disney is on the right path with this film. The animation is superb and the storyline is looking to be a lot more clever than I had thought. They showed two long sequences and both were terrifically entertaining. Nothing to worry about here.

The big surprise of the Disney presentation was the the clip (the first five minutes) of Prep and Landing a new CG Christmas special from Disney Animation Studios. I knew very little about this before… the five five minutes are wonderful and it could be a new Christmas classic. It’s about two Santa’s elves who prepare each home for Santa’s arrival. Check this out when it airs in December.

Lasseter showed a sequence (and trailer) for Beauty and the Beast in 3D. This was interesting because it’s not only in 3D, but the new technique they use adds 3D to the 3D, making the “flat characters” feel even more dimensional than the “viewmaster” feel of previous 3-D cartoons like Melody or Lumberjack Rabbit. Not sure if it’ll work based on the clips I saw, but it’s an interesting experiment.

Lasseter then brought out Hayao Miyazaki (to a standing ovation) and they did a little Q & A, showed a great scene from Ponyo and then took questions from the audience – comedian Patton Oswald took over at this point as a moderator. The questions from the audience – mostly directed to Miyazaki – were respectful and intelligent. This was a great panel, perfectly coordinated and produced. Photo above is from Toonzone.com – pictured left to right, Lee Unkrich, Kirk Wise, Ron Clements, John Musker, translator, Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter and Patton Oswalt.

Later that day, I attended Mark Evanier’s tribute panel to Stan Freberg, which was delightful – and hilarious. That night I attended a Disney Publishing party. Great party with great food, free books and t-shirts! At 9pm I screened my latest collection of Worst Cartoons Ever to a capacity crowd (2000 plus). If you are interested in obtaining a dvd of my 2009 compilation, please write to me at jbeck6540-at-aol.com.

Saturday: I began the day doing jury duty – as one of the celebrity judges for Titmouse Animation’s new reality series (in production), 7200 Frames. The judging took place on a yacht docked behind the Marriot Marina hotel, next door to the convention center. Loads of fun.

Later that day, Mark Evanier and Earl Kress did a panel with June Foray. It was a love fest between her and the audience. That night was the annual Writers Guild of America/Animation Caucus cocktail party. Again, great food and drink and wonderful conversation with old friends like Michael Uslan, Patric Varrone, Tom Kenny, Craig Miller, Marc Zicree, Jim Wheelock, Stan Berkowitz and others. This party was on a fourth floor Terrace ballroom at the Hyatt Hotel, and ended with a perfect view of a fireworks show over the Marina.

All of the above accounted for only fifty percent of the last five days. I ran into many old friends, Brew readers and business contacts in the exhibit hall (aka dealers rooms) – and I bought way too many things. My head is still spinning but, unlike last year, I’m ready to do it again – next year!

2-D Lovers of Another Kind

Love in 2D

It seems only appropriate to wrap up Comic-Con weekend with this New York Times article about Japanese men who have long-term relationships with drawn images of cartoon characters. The article profiles Nisan (above) who met his current girlfriend–a pillowcase with a video game character printed onto it–at a comic book convention:

He treats her the way any decent man would treat a girlfriend – he takes her out on the weekends to sing karaoke or take purikura, photo-booth pictures imprinted on a sheet of tiny stickers. In the few hours we spent together, I watched him position her gently in the restaurant booth and later in the back seat of his car, making sure to keep her upright and not to touch her private parts. He doesn’t take her to work, but he has a backup body pillow with the same Nemutan cover inside his desk drawer in case he has to work late at his tech-support job.

THIS WEEKEND IN BROOKLYN: Animation Block Party

The sixth annual edition of Animation Block Party runs this weekend in Brooklyn. The event is the closest thing there is to an animation festival in the New York City area. There are five programs of the latest animated shorts from around the world, as well as a few parties. Tonight at 8pm is the opening night screening, which takes place outdoors on the roof of the Automotive High School in Williamsburg. More screenings follow on Saturday and Sunday. Film line-up, ticket info and locations are all available on the Animation Block website.

Casper and the Spectrals

Trick or treat? Direct from the Comic Con… due out just in time for Halloween, a new “Harvey” comic book from writer Todd Dezago and artist Pedro Delgado: Casper and the Spectrals. Alfred Harvey is probably rolling over in his grave, but personally I’m willing to give this take a chance. It sure beats the recent movie adaptation versions. Ardden Entertainment, who are currently publishing a nice update of Flash Gordon, is the company behind this. (Click on cover at left to see a larger image).

Das Micky Maus Girl (1930)

Mickey Mouse was so popular by 1930 that every animation studio around the world tried to create unauthorized Mickey Mouse cartoons. Even live action filmmakers tried to get into the act. Check out this scene featuring actress Anny Ondra from the 1930 German talkie Die vom Rummelplatz aka “Fair People” (in Austria this feature was released as “Das Micky Maus Girl”). Check out the vintage poster here. Does anyone know if this was authorized by the Disney Studio?

(Thanks, Gary Meyer)

SDCC ’09: Jeremy Bernstein

Animation artist Jeremy Bernstein will be at booth C05 from Thursday to Sunday with his new book: Neon Lights in the Golden Hour. It’s filled with illustrations of owls and poetry. 56 pages. 28 illustrations. 28 original poems. Full color. 6 x 9. Only 200 copies printed! Plus every buyer will get a drawing done inside as well as a 4×3 sticker. Check out Jeremy’s blog to see more images.

SDCC ’09: Craig Yoe

In case you were wondering where our buddy, artist/cartoon historian Craig Yoe will be during the San Diego Comic Con, here’s an abbreviated checklist:

THURSDAY JULY 23RD
- 12:00 to 1:00 pm Fantagraphics Book Signing “The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers” booth # 1716

FRIDAY JULY 24TH
- 3:00 to 4:00 pm Abrams Book Signing “Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster” booth # 1216

SATURDAY JULY 25TH
- 11:00 am to 12:00 pm Abrams Book Signing “Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster” booth # 1216

- 1:00 to 2:00 pm 1:00-2:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #11: The (Strange) State of Siegel and Shuster Scholarship– Brad Ricca (Case Western Reserve University), director of Last Son, a scholarly documentary on Siegel and Shuster, moderates this conversational panel featuring Craig Yoe (Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman Co-Creator Joe Shuster) and Lauren Agostino, an independent scholar, who will share letters connected to the 1947 lawsuit and portions of the original Superboy script that completely upset a lot of myths about who created Superboy. Room 30AB

Meanwhile, Variety reported that Yoe’s book Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster has optioned for major motion picture by the Gotham Group. Below is an animation made up of images from Yoe’s Secret Identity book. It is not suitable for children, its for adults only and definitely not safe for work. Click at your own risk:

Oh, and if you are in L.A. next Wednesday, check out the “Secret Identity” West Coast L/Raunch Party – Wednesday July 29th from 8:00 to 10:00 pm at MeltDown Comix, 7522 W Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood California.

Mon Chinois by Cédric Villain

I’m having an unforgettably fantastic time at Anima Mundi in Brazil. One of the films that picked up an award at the festival is Mon Chinois (2008) by Cédric Villain, which looks at how the Western world stereotypes Chinese people. The film does a good job of evoking both laughter and unease from the viewer. It’s in French, but I think you’ll be able to figure it out.

SDCC ’09: Jerry Beck

I’m driving down to San Diego today and will be wandering the Comic Con dealers room tonight. I have two big commitments, so if you are looking for me these are the only two places/times I’m guaranteed to be at:

• Thursday morning at 10:30am (note the new time), I’m moderating the Astro Boy Panel, showing clips from the forthcoming movie and doing a Q&A with director David Bowers, producer Maryanne Grager, and stars Freddie Highmore and Kristen Bell. In Room 6BCF.

•Friday night at 9pm, I’m screening The Worst Cartoons Ever! All-new, all terrible, all hilarious. In Room 6BCF.

So come to my panels and say hello. Beyond this, I will be spending the next four days wandering the con, trying to get into panels, looking for comics, meeting up with friends, and simply hanging out.

The Prodigy

No, it’s not Kung Fu Panda… it’s SO not Kung Fu Panda.

Yeah, once again it’s time to take note a knock-off DVD, but this one – The Prodigy – was not created by anonymous drones in some third world country, but by former Disney and Dreamworks artists.

Here’s the synopsis:

KG – the ‘Kung Fu Girl’ with a big heart – is an underdog. When the odds are against her, she discovers that there is no limit to what she can accomplish when she believes in herself. With the help of her brave yet zany Master Panda, KG sets off on a journey to restore justice to her beautiful kingdom and rescue her beloved prince. “A hilarious side-splitting animated feature, THE PRODIGY delivers Non-Stop Kung Fu Fun!”

Yeah, right.

According to a press release they foolishly sent me:

The film represents a milestone for Writer/Director Robert D. Hanna, who created Prevalent Entertainment as an independent animation house that has employed an American team without outsourcing to foreign animators, and performs outside of the big studio system.

Some top CG Animators, Production Designers, and Artists from DreamWorks, Sony, and Disney studios all contributed. An integral part of the team is David Colman of Disney Feature Animation; he’s an Emmy Award winning artist who generated character designs for The Prodigy. David Lowery (Head of story on Shrek) was producer and supervisor of the story department, and Craig Elliott (Shark Tale, Bee Movie) was the inventive production designer. Steve Gordon (Shrek II, Anastasia, Over The Hedge) created essential story boards to flesh out the meaningful romantic storyline. Instructive Bonus Featurettes on the DVD illustrate a primer for future animators on “Animated Character Creation” and bringing the “Story To Life”; they document the pre-production work of the talented artists and animators who worked tirelessly on the film.

You be the judge. The trailer is embedded below.

Filmation’s Marx Brothers?

Thank God for small favors… As far as I know this show doesn’t exist. Fred Grandinetti sent me this trade ad from Broadcasting Magazine (February, 1966) offering a Marx Bros. cartoon package from Filmation. Was there be a pilot? The ad offers a screening, so… could be? This was in the era when Hanna Barbera was producing Abbott and Costello, and Laurel and Hardy cartoons. In light of what Filmation would do to Jerry Lewis a few years later, let’s consider ourselves lucky the brothers Marx weren’t subjected to their cheapjack production methods.

SDCC ’09: More plugs for stuff I like

Click on thumbnails below to see full-size images.

First, this just in from Eric Goldberg:

Hi, guys-
Thought I would pass along a pre-San Diego Comic Con plug for my various attempts to become the world’s most hard-to-avoid animator. First, I will be part of the panel discussion, hosted by the illustrious Don Hahn and sponsored by AnimationMentor.com, celebrating the teachings and years of inspiration to Disney artists by Walt Stanchfield, whose class handout sheets are now lovingly compiled into a two-volume tome, Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes. Alongside me on the dais: Glen Keane, Tom Sito, and Ruben Procopio.

Thursday, July 23, Room 32 AB, 3:00 — 4:00 PM (Note the time change from previously published posts)

Then, my new collection of sketchbook cartoons, Enjoy It While You Can, Kid, is debuting at the Con, courtesy of Stuart Ng, who also happens to be the publisher. (What a coincidence!) I will be shamelessly signing and plugging it, as well as copies of Character Animation Crash Course!, at these times and locations, all a hair’s breadth away from Stuart Ng Books at Booth 5012:

Thursday, July 23, 4:30 — 6:30 PM, Booth 5022, hosted by Creative Talent Network

Saturday, July 25, 10:30 AM — 12:30 PM, Booth 5022, hosted by Creative Talent Network

Sunday, July 26, 12:00 — 2:00 PM, Booth 5019, hosted by Flesk Publications


Andy Suriano, one of the character designers for Samurai Jack, Clone Wars and the soon-to-be Genndy’s new show, and his partner’s (Ben 10 creator Joe Casey) comic book, Charlatan Ball (from Image), is being collected and released as a trade paperback at SD Comic Con this year. It’s got our mutual friend (and Suriano’s Plastic Man collaborator) Tom Kenny providing a forward. Suriano will appaer at the Image Comics booth this year (booth #2729) and have an “official” signing @ table 1, Thursday, July 23rd from 2-3pm. He’ll also be at his own table selling swag and his sketchbooks.


Mills James Productions, based in Columbus Ohio, has produced a feature length documentary on BONE creator (and former animator) Jeff Smith. The film, titled The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, BONE and the Changing Face of Comics, will debut at Comic-Con on Friday July 24th. The Comic-Con screening will be 7:30 pm in Room 5AB of the San Diego Convention Center. Writer/director Ken Mills, president of Mills James Productions, and co-producer and editor Mike Meyer will be present to introduce the film and answer questions. For more information on the documentary, visit its Web site.

The Awesome Chronicles of Manny and Khan

Someone posted one of the shorts from The Cartoonstitute, Cartoon Network’s former shorts program. Since they are no longer running cartoons, we might as well embed it here and take a look. Note, the sound is bad and the ending is cut off. Regardless, the heavily Spumco-influenced Awesome Chronicles of Manny and Khan by Josh Lieberman and Joey Giardina has funny drawings and pleasing design… things no longer of interest to CN.

(Thanks, Joshua Bailey)

The Lion of Judah

Variety is reporting on an animation boom in South Africa, focusing its article around the country’s first CGI feature, The Lion of Judah. The “faith-based” film is being readied for a U.S. release in November, through a new company called Animated Family Films headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida.

The movie stars the voice of Ernest Borgnine (Spongebob’s own Mermaid Man) and is being produced at Cape Town’s Character Matters studio. According to the Variety article, the studio is desperate for qualified animators to join their team. One look at the trailer will demonstrate how desperate. The one sheet poster is also pretty bad.

Which reminds me – my Worst Cartoons Ever! screening is Friday night, 9pm at the San Diego Comic Con. Don’t miss it!

SDCC ’09: More Books!

In the run up to the Comic Con next week, I’ll be posting on several unique events and items that might be of interest to our readers. Click on thumbnails above to see larger images.

First up, Steve Worth and the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive have reprinted a deluxe two-volume edition of Eugene “Zim” Zimmerman’s (1862-1935) legendary 1914 cartooning course. This is a jaw-dropping compilation of classic cartoon art and theory, illustrated with nearly 1,000 B&W illustrations and 22 hand-tipped color plates. Ralph Bakshi provides the foreword to this reprint. The two volumes will be available beginning July 23rd at ASIFA-Hollywood’s booth at the San Diego Comic-Con. (Booth #5334: To the right of the main entrance, against the lobby side wall.) Quantities are very limited. Copies will also be available for sale on ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive website soon after.

For more information on Eugene “Zim” Zimmerman, samples of his artwork and about his cartooning course, see Asifa-Hollywood’s Animation Archive.


In The Cryptid Case Files, animator Beth Sleven takes us inside a top secret government agency whose sole purpose is to hunt and capture monsters. Inspired by her love of the “B” monster-movie genre, Slevin has created a full-color, 72 page illustrated narrative that will delight monster-move addicts and animation fans alike.

The Cryptid Case Files will debut at Comic Con, where Slevin will have a booth and be on hand for a signing Saturday July 25th. The book will be available for purchase August 2009 at CryptidCaseFiles.com.


And finally, Stuart Ng – Booth 5012 at the East end of the exhibit hall – is a must-visit. Stuart will be having signings with Peter de Seve, Eric Goldberg and others during the course of the show. Stuart will also have copies of Scott Morse, Lou Romano, Don Shank & Nate Wragg’s Ancient Book of Sex and Science — a collection of paintings by four Pixar artist-designers, the second of four planned books (with an introduction by Pete Docter). This book will also be available at its publisher’s booth, Red Window (booth #4800), and at Gallery Nucleus (booth #2329).

Max Weintraub

Max Weintraub

Whether it’s the elegant animated navigation of his Flash portfolio site or the visually adventurous commercials and promos on his reel, Max Weintraub‘s work has style to spare. He’s a 2000 CalArts grad who is now living and working in Tokyo. I only discovered his work last week when his delightful freshman CalArts film, Dance Mania, featuring Michael Jackson, made the rounds on Facebook. His latest project is particularly interesting. He was commissioned by a Japanese TV network to create thirteen short animated pieces based on La Vilaine Lulu, a vintage illustrated boook by fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent. The website for the project doesn’t feature any of the episodes (as far as I can tell), but I love the simple, charming bits of animation with the girl and want to see more.

Harvey-Tomb

This is the grave marker for Alfred Harvey (1913-1994), founder of Harvey Comics, who is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Westchester County in New York. (Click on image to see larger picture).

I’m tempted to make some bad taste wisecracks about friendly ghosts, or how this headstone replaced an earlier one marked “Noveltoons”… but I gotta admit, that’s a really cool tombstone.

(Thanks, Mark Arnold)

“Tetragram for Enlargement” by Apparati Effimeri

Apparati Effimeri

There has been a lot of growth in site-specific animation over the past few years, and artists like Blu and Pablo Valbuena are finding different ways to incorporate the built environment into animation. The video installation “Tetragram for Enlargement,” created by the Italian visual artist collective Apparati Effimeri, is set against a medieval castle, and it’s one of the trippiest marriages of architecture and animation I’ve seen to date.

SDCC ’09: Van Eaton’s Book Booth

If you are going to the San Diego Comic Con, don’t miss Booth #501, Van Eaton Galleries. Forget the voluminous amount of vintage animation art they have (which alone is worth the visit) – Van Eaton is the exclusive seller of three brand-new animation history books you should own:

1. Darrell Van Citters’ Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol – which I raved about here.

2. June Foray’s autobiography Did You Grow Up With Me Too?

Legendary voice artist June Foray has compiled a new autobiography with the help of our buddies Mark Evanier and Earl Kress. I’ve seen the book and its loaded with great first hand stories from June, loaded with little known facts about her life and career, and wonderful photos that illustrate June’s most famous (and infamous) roles. Rocky, Natasha, and Witch Hazel are as thoroughly covered as the smallest roles (including Chatty Cathy and her Twilight Zone counterpart, Talky Tina). June’s early work with Disney and on Andy’s Gang and her later involvement with Asifa and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; her friendships with Stan Freberg, Jay Ward, Bill Scott, Saul Bass and others – it’s all here in this wonderfully written volume.

June will be at the Van Eaton booth in person to sign copies from 5 PM to 6 PM on Friday, 4 PM to 6 PM on Saturday and 1 PM to 2 PM on Sunday. Signed copies will also be available from Van Eaton after the show – advance order accepted now.

3. Mark Arnold’s Created and Produced by Total Television

Arnold’s book on Total Television lays out the full story on the studio behind Underdog, The King and Odie, Tennessee Tuxedo, Go-Go Gophers, Twinkles the Elephant and many other TV characters of the 1960s. Often thought by some to be the work of Jay Ward, Total Television’s output was indeed produced at the same Mexican studio (Gamma Productions) that Ward used. Arnold untangles the history of the studio (which includes Gerneral Mills, Peter Piech and even Terrytoons!), the shows they made, the voice talent they employed, and the licensed merchandise that ensued. A complete episode guide is included. A must for your TV-Cartoon bookshelf.

See you at booth #501.